Indian Time

  "You'll never make it by 4:00 p.m." my son had said, knowing quite well the ever on-going construction along Highway 2 in the Duluth area and east toward Ashland, WI. I had kept a good speed since we had left home, driving faster than normal, taking the road through the Red Lake Nation to cut some time, hitting the lights just right through Grand Rapids, pausing briefly in Floodwood for Grandma's sake as she is so uncomfortable on long car trips.        

   Cutting any time at all from the seven and a half hour trip is quite a task since there seems a hundred small towns to slow down through between here and Red Cliff--and no interstates, save for the higher speed limits on the east-west Highway 2 which offers stretches of four-lane travel and passing lanes, but we have to travel a hundred miles to reach it and all of that on two-lane blacktops that during the summertime, are full of deer, bear, an occasional moose, a few canines, turtles, frogs and mosquitoes trying to cross the road at the same time. No small task this. The only way to get there early is to leave earlier in the day but doesn't guarantee a person will experience a powwow on time--because there isn't such a thing. As the powwow announcer explained Indian Time to the neophytes in the crowd, "Indians don't start anything until they're ready and don't quit until everything is done." So the Grand Entry times of 1:00 p.m., do not indicate Indian Time starting times which may be several minutes to an hour later--or more, unless the announcer is extremely persuasive and the participants are extremely cooperative. In between the announcer cracks jokes and keeps the audience --and the participants--aware there is a powwow happening there, 'sooner or later.'

   But this starting time of 4:00 p.m., that evening, was for a special event that we just had to make, one that Grandma was willing to endure all those almost-300 miles of rough road to see, the royalty contest for little braves and princesses in which our 4-yr old grandson was participating. Grandson had been dancing at powwows since he could walk and I suspect was likely conceived at such a gathering long after the dancing and drumming had ended. Inside the womb, he danced inside his mother,  a shawl and jingle-dress dancer. He had felt his father's drum reverberate the placenta he floated in and after he was born, slept beside the drum during powwow as his father and all his 'uncles' kept beat. Strong enough to walk the arena, he was dressed in moccasins and a little bustle, sometimes bending at the knees to the drum beat as I've observed babies, of other cultures do when in proximity of the drum. When he was about two and half-years old, he knelt at just the right drum beat during a grass dance. Of course, we thought that sooo cute, as many grandparents would. Although he seems to enjoy dancing, he is also serious about it. I see him watching the older dancers and they, in turn, help him as is their fondness for beginning powwow dancers. 

   We drove into the Legendary Waters Casino parking lot about 4:30 p.m., and things hadn't got started yet. Somehow I wasn't surprised.



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